On Jan. 9 the U.S. Department of Agriculture began allowing farmers to terminate their Conservation Reserve Program contracts early in order to transfer property to the next generation.
CRP participants voluntarily take highly erodible land out of agricultural production in the interest of boosting soil and water quality and enhancing wildlife habitats. Land eligible for early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in the program.
Previously, CRP landowners who terminated a contract early would have been required to repay previous payments plus interest. The new policy waives repayment if the land is transferred directly to beginning farmers or ranchers.
Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, said the change is important because it gives Virginia farmers added flexibility in land transfers.
“At some point farm ownership transitions to a new owner, who may need to put the enrolled acreage back into production,” he explained.
The USDA expects U.S. farmland owners to transfer about 93 million acres to new ownership between 2015 and 2019.
For more information, contact a local USDA Farm Service Agency office or visit fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/conservation-reserve-program.